Nov 11

Popular ’92

Popular92 comments • 4,494 views

I give a mark out of 10 to every track – this poll is for you to tick all the songs you’d have given 6 or more to, and you can discuss the year in general in the comments box.

Which of these Number Ones Of 1992 would you give 6 or more to?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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A year of few number ones, though it took me an age to finish. My highest marks were 8 for Shakespear’s Sister and Charles And Eddie; lowest was a 2 for Wet Wet Wet. Onwards!


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  1. 31
    wichita lineman on 30 Nov 2011 #

    Good call on YATE. Truly evocative lyric; it reminds me of being to driven to my Nan’s house in Dorking at night, lying on the backseat, watching the streetlights whizzing past, with David Bowie’s terrifying Bewlay Brothers on the car radio.

    I’ve been doing a lot of REM re-appraising recently, so much easier now they are no longer functioning (conclusion largely as expected: cut-off point is Automatic For The People, with Up as the true ‘comeback album’). I was trying to think of someone else whose stock would rise if they quit tomorrow and thought of Stereolab (aware that I might be in a glasshouse with a brick in my hand).

  2. 32
    LondonLee on 30 Nov 2011 #


    REM-wise I remember being quite surprised that a lot of people hated ‘Shiny Happy People’ (indie snobbery maybe?) because I loved it.

  3. 33
    wichita lineman on 30 Nov 2011 #

    Pre-Automatic For The People, REM had a habit of sticking out singles which were clearly aimed at breaking out of their ‘indie’ fanbase. The reason I didn’t like them is that, for such an oblique and atmospheric group, these songs were so grindingly obvious. Some were ok (It’s The End Of The World As We Know It), but Stand and Shiny Happy People came over as nursery rhymes that spelt out i.r.o.n.i.c. for the ignoramus. “Look everybody! It’s a POP song! Like an advertising JINGLE! Geddit??!!!”

    Patronising to their (presumed as anti-pop) fanbase and condescending to actual pop fans, I think these tracks really mar the 87-92 albums. I prefer my irony from Homer Simpson (“ooooh! and what is this magical beast?”), which is no less subtle.

  4. 34
    Ed on 1 Dec 2011 #

    #30 and 31. Yes! ‘You Are The Everything’ is not my favorite REM song (that is ‘Perfect Circle’, probably), but it is their (Stipe’s?) greatest lyric, I think. They often aim for that everyday epiphany, but on YATE they achieve it more idiosyncratically, and more vividly, than anywhere else. “And you’re drifting off to sleep, with your teeth in your mouth” is pretty close to perfection: one of those phrases that just embeds itself in your consciousness.

  5. 35
    DietMondrian on 1 Dec 2011 #

    ~#34 – reading the front page, where in the “latest comments” section it says “#30 and 31. Yes! ‘You Are The Everything’ is not my favorite REM song…”, as I moved the cursor to click on the link the line “with your teeth in your mouth” immediately popped into my mind.

  6. 36
    Ed on 2 Dec 2011 #

    #8 And amen to that, too. ‘Out of Space’ is probably my favourite of the year, tied with ‘Avenue’. (Just ahead of ‘One’ and ‘Baby Got Back’.)

    But check all those critics’ lists: it is not on any of them. I don’t really remember the early critical reaction to the Prodigy, but were they a case of Stooges-scale “getting it wrong”, in the sense of initial disdain having to be reversed in the face of manifest brilliance?

    Wikipedia describes ‘Experience’ as “critically acclaimed”, but I am not sure I believe it. Of the reviews I have found online, Christgau called it “irritating”, and Q gave it three stars, in a classic case of not wanting to be fusty about this new-fangled “rave” business.

  7. 37
    Izzy on 2 Dec 2011 #

    They got some perfunctory coverage in the music press I think, on basis of being actually popular with young people presumably, but as I recall it wasn’t ’til they dirtied up their image a bit around the likes of ‘Poison’ that they started to get taken seriously. I’d guess this because they could then be lumped in with crustiness and kill the bill and all that, rather than frivolities like incredible tunes, genuine popularity and having a good time.

    Another reason is that it’s hard to know what to do with an act that breaks with a novelty record. It’s ludicrous nowadays, when ‘Charly’, ‘Everybody In The Place’ and ‘Out Of Space’ (those opening chords!) are as thrilling a triptych as it’s possible to imagine, but I reckon the press couldn’t tell the difference between them and Smart-Es or whoever did the Roobarb & Custard song.

  8. 38
    Tom on 2 Dec 2011 #

    “Out Of Space” was the highlight of every student disco I went to in my first year at University (a lot of them DJed by FT’s own Pete Baran, to be fair). I think that single was what primed the music press to pay more attention when “No Good (Start The Dance)”, “Poison” etc rolled round.

    I think Select was pretty keen on Experience though so it wasn’t total press dismissiveness. But IIRC that review was quite combatitively contrarian – as if the idea that rave was brilliant pop was something which had to be sold hard to a wary public, rather than an obvious ‘fact on the ground’.

    Roobarb And Custard was Shaft, who turned out to be respected ambient bods in disguise I think: Global Communication, wasn’t it?

  9. 39
    punctum on 2 Dec 2011 #

    Yep, Tom Middleton and the other bloke.

    Experience got 4 out of 10 in the NME from old hippie Kris Needs. The Expanded 2CD version with all the single mixes is on a good day in my all-time top ten albums.

    Also, fact fans, Experience is the all-time favourite album of Des O’Connor!

  10. 40
    hilker on 2 Dec 2011 #

    Tom Middleton wasn’t in Shaft, it was Mark Pritchard (the other one from Global Communication, more recently Harmonic 313 and Africa HiTech on Warp) and someone called Adrian Hughes.

  11. 41
    AndyPandy on 3 Dec 2011 #

    And the strange thing is that with the rock press taking notice of the Prodigy the fanbase/raves/pirates no longer no longer had any interest in him (I’ll not say “them” as I always found the whole idea that it was a “group” and not just Liam Howlett also may have had something to do with “impressing” the rock critics/rock audience/America.

    I suppose a brief period ending with ‘Start The Dance’ (if the music press had started to listen by then) was the only time when the ravers and the rock world overlapped.

  12. 42
    lex on 3 Dec 2011 #

    Even at the age of 14 I though the music press suddenly jumping on the Prodigy’s dick in ’97 was gross. Like, just as their music became heavy-handed and terrible (though I do love “Breathe”) people finally caught up just because of the stupid “Firestarter” video? UGHHH.

  13. 43
    Izzy on 3 Dec 2011 #

    If ‘Out Of Space’ is what softened up the press for them (#38), it must have been the sample what done it. A kids’ safety ad and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown spell novelty and therefore ‘not serious’, but an obscurish reggae tune would be just the hook nme needed to make them okay to like.

    I’m sure there have been other novelty-to-credible career paths, but I can’t think of any right now. Stevie Wonder, sort of?

  14. 44
    Billy Smart on 8 Dec 2011 #

    NME Readers Poll Best Single of 1992

    1 The Drowners – Suede
    2 Motorcycle Emptiness – Manic Street Preachers
    3 Metal Mickey – Suede
    4 The Only Living Boy In New Cross – Carter USM
    5 Drive – REM
    6 Changes – Sugar
    7 Lithium – Nirvana
    8 Ebeneezer Goode – The Shamen
    9 Armchair Anarchist – Kingmaker
    10 The Blue Room – The Orb
    = Leave Them All Behind – Ride
    = Goodbye – The Sundays

  15. 45
    Billy Smart on 8 Dec 2011 #

    Melody Maker Readers Poll Best Single of 1992

    1 The Drowners – Suede
    2 Metal Mickey – Suede
    3 Friday I’m In Love – The Cure
    4 Motorcycle Emptiness – Manic Street Preachers
    5 Drive – REM
    6 Youth Against Fascism – Sonic Youth
    7 Sheela Na Gig – PJ Harvey
    8 All In The Mind – Verve
    9 The Blue Room – The Orb
    10 Connected – Stereo MC’s

  16. 46
    chelovek na lune on 8 Dec 2011 #

    #43, Depeche Mode come periliously close to fitting that template I’d say.

    Plinky-plonky keyboard-pop with rather twee and overly cute lyrics > odd hint of something more > pseudo-political pop with naive but oh-so-well-intentioned lyrics (and the odd S&M reference) > BLACK CELEBRATION AND ALL THAT FOLLOWED SHEER WONDERFULNESS

    (Correction: SHAKE THE DISEASE was the first fully-formed hint of just how very very very brilliant they could be)

    1992 wasn’t really such a great year for music, was it?

  17. 47
    anto on 8 Dec 2011 #

    Am I looking at the same lists as everyone else? If anything this is the point where I really get interested. I can see several songs in those polls that basically made my school days bearable.

  18. 48
    Mark M on 9 Dec 2011 #

    Re 47: No, you’re not looking at the same list as most of the other people responding to the list
    insofar as you were at a different point in your life, with different needs. You were at the point where music often matters most – my equivalent would have been 1986-7. In 1992 I finished university and climbed on to the very lowest rungs of professional writing about music, something that almost put me off recorded sound for good…

  19. 49
    DietMondrian on 9 Dec 2011 #

    #43 – might I suggest David Bowie?

    Novelty hit – Space Oddity*. Early history of similar novelty stuff (e.g. The Laughing Gnome, Please Mr Gravedigger). Then a gap of a couple of years before critical approval starts building around Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust.**

    * I love Space Oddity, but it can be seen as a novelty, no? Title punning on 2001: A Space Odyssey, song cashing in on same and moon landing, gimmicky use of Stylophone.

    ** I admit I don’t know if this is a true reflection of Bowie’s critical status at the time.

  20. 50
    Mark G on 9 Dec 2011 #

    Novelty to Srs? Blimey endless:

    Jeff Beck, Kraftwerk, Mike Batt, etc..

    How about Novelty to “attempted to be srs”, Babylon Zoo for example?

  21. 51
    Steve Mannion on 9 Dec 2011 #

    #46 re ’1992 wasn’t really such a great year for music, was it?’

    Maybe we should do a ‘tick all the years you think featured a sufficient amount of great music’ poll as I wouldn’t mind seeing just how many people think otherwise.

  22. 52
    wichita lineman on 11 Dec 2011 #

    That would be interesting, Steve – I wonder about consensus good/bad years. I think because of my age, and the average age of commenters, I’d swim against the tide by saying 1984 was a rotten year – not necessarily for its no.1s, though, but beyond the rise of the Smiths and the odd electro or hi-NRG record it felt like the heart of the eighties vacuum.

    Is there already a way of seeing how people rate years by their no.1s?

  23. 53
    AndyPandy on 11 Dec 2011 #

    1984 still had enough electro/early hiphop and the very very end of the old jazz-funk scene to put it ahead of 1985 and 1986 – IMHO they were absolutely abysmal although I agree 1984 was pretty dire too.

    Ironic really that I dislike those years so intensely when the 1980’s was “my decade” (ie the whole of my youth falling amongst those ten years) and with 1980-83 and 1988-89 as good as it gets in any decade for me.

  24. 54
    thefatgit on 12 Dec 2011 #

    I’d be inclined to suggest 1981 – 1984 were very good years, but 1985 saw the Old Guard (courtesy of Live Aid) barge New Pop off the road. 1987 – 1989 sees the next decade ushered in early IMO.

  25. 55
    lex on 12 Dec 2011 #

    There is no such thing as a good or bad year for music! Every year I’ve been a music fan has been an AMAZING year for music. Sometimes you have to look in different directions to other years but that’s your responsibility, not the music’s.

  26. 56
    wichita lineman on 12 Dec 2011 #

    Oh, Lex. Of course you’re right, but try picking the bones out of ’75!

    Andy and Fatgit, I’m guessing we’re all of a similar age. If I’d been 12 in 1984 I’d probably have found Frankie more interesting (I like the idea way more than the music) and would’ve by Live Aid in a John Cravens Newsround kind of way. I was 19, though, and quite aware that a golden era was ending with my teens.

    1985 and ’86 saw me embrace fanzine culture and C86 so I found a lot there to get excited about. But outside of that, zip. Jack The Groove was a way out of a black hole, followed by Beat Dis, Acid Tracks, Strings Of Life…

  27. 57
    Mark G on 12 Dec 2011 #

    1975 means ‘UK pop’ reggae, Soul before it became Disco, and teh Glam.

  28. 58
    punctum on 12 Dec 2011 #

    #55: That’s not the point. The general wellbeing is what is absorbed and recalled. There were a thousand great records released in 1983 for example but it was still a shit year for music.

  29. 59
    thefatgit on 12 Dec 2011 #

    I don’t think it would have mattered if I was 12 or 22 (I was 18 fwiw), I was totally sucked in by ZTT’s studio-trickery and neo-constructivism. The music varied in quality, but I still get goosebumps with Frankie and Propaganda.

    And Lex, I don’t think I singled out a particularly “bad” year. You’re right about looking in the right places for thrills, but unless you are really committed in your search, some years have fewer thrills than others.

  30. 60
    wichita lineman on 12 Dec 2011 #

    And other stuff happens in your life.

    Dr Mabuse was one of my absolute favourite singles of ’84 by the way FG.

    Mark, soul before disco? I’d say not. But I love Shame Shame Shame and The Moments’ Girls regardless. Early disco, more like, with soul singers trying to squeeze into the newly regimented beat. Glam was dead in the water.

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